I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.1 Corinthians 5:11
It is most shocking that the one doing this extreme thing (incest with his step mother) claims to be a believer. And of course as we have seen already, the church almost condoned what he is doing. It is like the comments I made in Bible Gem 143 related to Rom 1:32 “They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.” They went from practising to condoning, consenting, applauding, encouraging, approving, delighting in it.
But actually what is more shocking yet is the remainder of the verse. I can imagine us all saying to the mid point of the verse, “Yes Paul, preach it, brother Paul. You tell them.” Yes that is true we not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin.” Yes and Amen. But then Paul says “or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people.” Oh come on Paul, cheating is third to bottom on my ranking of sin. It is only just above Little White Lies and inhospitality. How can that be the same as incest?
Yes, that’s right says Paul. Don’t even eat with those people either. What is most shocking to all of us is that there is no such thing as a ranking for sin. Incest, any sexual sin, greed, idol worship, abuse, drunkardness, cheating – it’s all the same. Don’t even eat with such people. (read: relate to at a more personal, friendly, social level). Paul puts all the sins together. I am sure Paul did that to shock the Corinthians. Remember I told you I know which of the sins of the Corinthians would feature on the front pages of our newspapers. It would be incest for sure. It is juicy, sensational, the kind of thing that sells newspapers. But remember Paul is trying to get the Corinthians’ attention on the issues that divide them. I am sure as they read his comments here it would have shocked them. They would have had the same reaction you are having. Remember Corinth is that city that gives free reign to sexual sin. Those sins are permissible according to the society around them. Paul’s words would have shocked them.
Look at the lists. I am sure there are sins listed that will shock you. Why is that in the list? It is only a small issue. Not so. Sin is sin. There is absolutely no ranking given to it. There are no big ones and little ones. Black, white or any other colour. It is all the same. Paul uses lists of sin again in Corinthians – we are not finished with this topic yet.
And do you know what? If you read the New Testament wider than the Corinthian letters, it gets worse. Do a little study of your own on the list of sins in the New Testament. In the next Gem we will deal with more.
Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do. Character is doing it when you don’t feel like it.Rick Warren